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Reporting Nursing Home Deaths

Published on May 18th, 2020

At least 30,000 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the United States. Confirmed cases of the virus have infected more than 175,000 residents at 7,700 facilities.  While just 11 percent of the country’s confirmed cases have occurred in long-term care facilities, deaths related to Covid-19 in these facilities account for more than a third of the country’s pandemic fatalities.  In 14 states, the number of residents and workers who have died accounts for more than half of all deaths from the virus. Because of the poor testing in South Carolina, nursing home deaths amount to 32% of all coronavirus deaths.

The Trump Administration still has not tallied the number of nursing homes that have had outbreaks nationwide or the number of residents who have died. And the data is still weeks away from being made public, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, the federal agency that oversees nursing homes.  Given the wide variability in the type of information available, the totals shown here almost certainly represent an undercount of the true toll.

The nursing home industry says knowing the scope of the problem and which facilities should get priority is crucial. The need for greater access to testing and protective equipment has become even more urgent as more states are beginning to ease restrictions and reopen, effectively leaving older Americans “to fend for themselves as the virus threatens to wipe out an entire generation,” LeadingAge, which represents nonprofit long-term care facilities, said in a statement.

Under the new requirements, long-term care facilities must begin reporting coronavirus cases and other data to the federal government by May 17 or face monetary penalties. However, they will initially have a two-week grace period to comply, according to CMS.

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